So, you’ve heard a crate might be a good idea to help your lovely pooch.
A crate is a small enclosed space that you can provide to your dog, they serve as a retreat to help them feel secure. They are usually made out of wire or canvas.
In this article, we hope to give you as much information as possible so you can make an informed choice about what’s right for your situation.
What are the advantages of using a crate?
A crate can function as a safe space so dogs can retreat there to help them feel secure when they're feeling uncertain.
It's also very useful to have your dog comfortable in these spaces because there are times when dogs need to have restricted movement; like when they're being transported, recovering from medical procedures or when they're being housed at the vet.
Are there any disadvantages of using a crate?
There's no real disadvantages to using a crate.
It's more that there can be downsides if used improperly, like confining a dog that's not comfortable in a crate (or similar sorts of environments), which can be quite distressing for them.
Restricting a dog's movement if there's no medical reason for lengthy periods can be problematic as well. But if implemented correctly, and if the dog has a positive association with the crate, there are no downsides to using one.
How can we know if a greyhound is comfortable with a crate?
The first thing we can do to gauge whether a greyhound is comfortable using a crate is to let them investigate a crate that's already set up.
Let them investigate the crate at their own pace, we don’t recommend shutting them in. Putting a comfy bed in goes a long way!
If the dog seems happy, relaxed or enters the crate and lays down, that’s a great sign they’re comfortable being in the crate.
It is only at that point that people should begin shutting the dog in the crate.
We recommend that the ‘shutting in’ should be done incrementally, making sure the dog is comfortable the whole time.
What types of greyhounds or owners would benefit from using a crate?
Nearly every greyhound owner could benefit from using a crate.
They’re especially great for households with children or busy households, because it’s really beneficial to have that area where the greyhound can go for things to be quiet and settled.
Do all greyhounds like crates or do some dislike them?
All greyhounds are individuals, so there might be some greyhounds that would be uncomfortable going into a crate of their own accord.
However, because we at GAP NSW for instance, re-home ex-racing greyhounds, most of these dogs are used to being housed in a kennel environment (which is also a small enclosed space).
It's a little different from a crate, however because it's similar - many greyhounds will take to a crate a lot quicker than an average pet dog.
How can I help to familiarise my wonderful greyhound with the crate?
The first thing we should do is putting the crate into a functional area of the house where it won’t be bumped into. Precise placement of the crate is one of the most important things we can do!
We don’t recommend moving it around - so that the greyhound doesn't need to be disrupted or confused when the crate's suddenly in a different orientation.
Choosing a good, quiet, low traffic area is the first thing people should do when beginning to get their dog used to the crate.
Then, as mentioned, we can let the greyhound investigate the crate at their own pace. From there, we can reward the greyhound for any kind of interaction with the crate.
The process of familiarisation will depend on the dog. There's some who will instantly enter, lay down and be comfortable. There's some who might be a bit more hesitant. In those cases you might want to reward simply sniffing the crate and so forth!
Is there anything I can do to continually reinforce use of it such as leaving treats in it?
Yes! Leaving treats and giving meals in the crate is a great start.
It’s great to make sure that anything and everything positive can happen in the crate (like you're giving the dog enrichment in the crate, long lasting chews etc).
Treats combined with comfort, safety and good sleeps are a great recipe for crate success!
Should the crate be covered with a blanket to make it darker?
Covering the crate entirely depends on the greyhound.
It doesn't hurt to invest in a blanket to help create that security so the greyhound has visual blocking. Many sensitive dogs would benefit from that sort of protection.
They are helpful when there are things ‘going on’ around the house, and therefore the dog doesn’t have to see potential social engagement they aren’t keen for.
Blankets can be really good, though it really depends on the poochy in question.
What happens if I have two greyhounds?
If you have more than one greyhound, it's best to get the same number of crates as you do dogs!
So that way there's no risk of competition or resource guarding.
And then when either dog needs a break - they can take a break and retreat to that space.
That way, we don't need to worry about one being able to access that comfort and the other one potentially needing to defend the resource of value because it is getting competed over.
Plus, better them having a crate each than pinching your couch!
Is there anything we should avoid doing around the crate?
We should, as much as possible, try to endeavor to make things in and around the crate to be positive experiences.
If there's ever something ‘negative’ that needs to be done (or potentially negative from the dog's perspective), such as nail trimming, that shouldn't be commenced anywhere near the crate - because we don't want the dog developing a negative association.
Same with if you've got a house with small children, we don't want children following the dog into the crate. We also don't want loud noises, people banging into the crate, or anything like that.
We want the crate to be a nice, calm, safe space for the dog :)